It shouldn’t hurt to be a child or an adult, but the social isolation and frustration created by the pandemic have intensified and increased the number of domestic violence cases and child abuse reports.
Everyone can recognize abuse in terms of physical pain: burning someone to punish or control them, beating or pinching them behind closed doors, then being extra nice in public.
Emotional control and abuse are more subtle and even more painful, with long-lasting effects, such as intimidating or bullying; withholding affection, freedom or money; belittling or treating the person like a servant. There are many, many more examples.
Fear is the primary tool though to control people: fear of loss, fear of pain, fear of hurting the children, fear of failing, fear of the unknown or fear of abusers threatening to kill themselves. And so much more.
In court, women have given up custody of children to keep abusive boyfriends or husbands, saying they can have more children but can’t get another man. No amount of bonding with those children can make up for abandoning them.
Beating children into submission is abuse and makes them defenseless and afraid to trust. Only a bully beats a child and calls it discipline. Adults who want well-behaved children have to listen, and demonstrate self-control, patience, and responsible and loving behavior for the children to learn from their example.
How many women have been beaten repeatedly by men who promise it won’t happen again? Law enforcement officials have said over and over that when a man is arrested for domestic violence, the women apologize for it being “their fault,” and are down at the jail to bail them out before the paperwork dries.
This issue of abuse and violence has nothing to do with good or bad people, although the actions are bad, and painful. It’s about people who need mental health help, who never learned better ways to manage anger or how to show love and affection. Name-calling or labeling won’t change the person or the culture, but teaching young people — all people — what is good mental health, what needs change and how to learn to make those changes in themselves, is a good start, so people stop abusing children, others and themselves.
It shouldn’t hurt to be a child or adult. Life should be filled with love, laughter and people who value and cherish children and one another. It’s not a fantasy, but as a society, we have a long road of self-examination, learning self-control and heart-changing choices.